Ignoring Your Competitors

What role do our competitors play when we are crafting a marketing plan or business strategy? Do they create unnecessary noise or provide us with market intelligence? Does it matter what their tactics or strategies are if our compass is tightly dialed to the merits of our brand merits? Do we deliver on our brand promises? These are basic and essential questions necessary to find the sweet spot in the market for our clients that is sustainable.

As someone who works with their clients on developing their brand, these are key concepts we ponder. My traditional view was that my clients always needed to have a pulse on the competitive universe. Looking ahead, I question whether or not, as a steward of my clients marketing plans, do I place too much credence on competitors positioning.

Perhaps we are doing ourselves a disservice.

What if we started from a blank slate and pretended that we were the only company doing what we do? Imagine then what is possible. We would innovate, create, and sustain our position. How would that change our approach to marketing and strategic development?

We engage our team, our current and prospective clients and our imaginative prowess into every medium and strategy. We see the end result with the freshness of new thinking. Intuition drives the thinking. This is essentially the DNA of the company. Instead of promoting, we inspire.

Case in point, I heard Terry Crews on the Tim Ferris show and it got me thinking, indeed we pay too much attention to our competitors and perhaps, it is stunting our creative viewfinder.

Let’s experiment with what it would be like not to care so much about what others are doing in our industry and concentrate on delivering what we’re good at. Maybe it’s just that simple.

Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

What Marketers Can Learn from Bjarke Ingels

THE BULLETS:
  • Cross-breed or hybrid ideas can be excellent solutions
  • Say yes. Don’t make customers pick and choose
  • Outlandish is what gets you noticed
  • The final product or solution should feel natural and effortless
  • Prepare for criticism if you are to get attention

My latest marketing inspiration comes from the fascinating Netflix documentary, Abstract, which profiles innovative designers around the world. This is the first instalment of a series of articles I’m writing that reference key practices or principles from some of my favourite episodes. I thought it would be useful to share how marketers and entrepreneurs could take the lessons learned from some of the designers and apply it to their business.

Today’s article focuses on episode four featuring Bjarke Ingels, a Danish architect.

1. Hybrid / Cross-Breed Ideas

Sometimes solutions are not derived purely from one discipline or one approach. Often, when we present options in a meeting, we think of them in silos: choose one or the other. In my work, it happens all the time. The client chooses, or rather, we hope to recommend one or the other. But what about both? Or if it isn’t feasible to do both, could you blend the two together?

2. Yes Is More. Obsess About Delivering Everything

We have a saying: We can’t have everything. Remember the three-legged stool? Of the three legs – price, quality, and speed – we say you can have, at most, two of the three. But Bjarke always says “yes” and works to deliver on all requests from clients. A good solution doesn’t force people to pick and choose.

3. Outlandish is the Zone of “Cool”

Giant ski slope on a power plant? That’s ridiculous, isn’t it? But they’re doing it. In general, we’re afraid of doing something outlandish. “What will people think? I can’t do that!” This is the zone we have to work in if we want to get attention. Go small at first. Start with something a bit out of the ordinary then push it a little bit more the next time, then the next. Eventually, work your way “out there.”

4. The Final Product Should Feel Effortless

When we work on a new concept, idea, or way of marketing a product or service, in the end, the final message, product, or stimulus should feel effortless. Yes, there is hard work and a lot of effort that goes into the work, but in the end, it should look and feel so simple. And simplicity is beautiful. A lot of marketing is pushy (effortful) but that means we’re not far enough. It should feel so simple that the customer says, “that just makes sense.”

5. Critics Are Inevitable

Anything out of the realm of typical or traditional should attract critics. We spend a lot of time trying to stay within the lines so we don’t attract negative feedback. Ultimately, you just end up with something flavourless. If we don’t have any backlash, we’re not pushing ourselves far enough.

Photo by Dmitri Popov on Unsplash

Using VR to Create Empathy?

I have a friend who works for one of the major human support services in Edmonton. When it comes to raising the profile of homelessness, agencies struggle to bridge the gap and strike an empathetic chord with the general public. In large part, this is probably due to the general misconceptions about the homeless that are out there. The majority of us (thankfully) have never experienced being on the street, but, as the saying goes, you just don’t know until you’ve walked a mile in someone else’s shoes.

Virtual reality (VR) might provide a major opportunity for organizations that are combatting homelessness to tell the story. If done right, we can give the general public a little sense of what it’s like to be on the street without demeaning those that are going through it.

Here are some humanitarian efforts that are using VR. Could it work for Alberta’s streets?

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Your Marketing Program: Three Quick Wins

[vc_row content_placement=”top” disable_element=”yes”][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”1976″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_border”][vc_column_text]Looking for a few quick wins for a marketing program that is not working or non-existent? Here is where I would start:

A quick plan is better than no plan at all. Some organizations that we meet with do not have an active or updated business plan. In this case, finding the time to put together some sort of quick plan is better than no plan at all. Start by putting something down on no more than one page. Then build on that.

Measure everything you are doing now. Rather than falling into the temptation of changing tactical variables, start by measuring what you are doing today. Starting from a position of knowledge allows you to better allocate your resources. Measuring can mean the difference between buying a whole new website or just changing a couple of pages to make your conversions better.

Make research an ongoing activity. Empower your frontline, customer-facing people — anyone who deals directly with customers to ask questions. “Hey, before I put you on hold for so and so, could I ask you a couple of questions…” is easily built into your business and is something that your customers will not mind. They’ll be delighted you care about their opinion. Have employees ready to share what they’re learning from your customers. Discuss it and put it in your mini-plan.

Now we’re starting a plan that is strategic, collaborative and that can evolve as you have time to flesh it out.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Marketing software and automation: Jumping in Before You Can Swim

[vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” bg_overlay_opacity=”.5″ css=”.vc_custom_1472743191010{background-image: url(http://beksmarketingwebsite.objects-us-west-1.dream.io/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/photo-1431932441182-250651654c23.jpeg?id=1925) !important;background-position: center !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}” bg_overlay_color=”#46bf85″][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”September Feature:” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:40|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” google_fonts=”font_family:Permanent%20Marker%3Aregular|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”Marketing Automation” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” google_fonts=”font_family:Lato%3A100%2C100italic%2C300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C700%2C700italic%2C900%2C900italic|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Like many others, your organization might be considering marketing automation software and processes, and that’s great! These new tools are offering us incredible opportunities to unlock potential in current lead and customer relationships.

I’m working with a client on setting up such a system and I thought it would be great to share three key lessons we’ve learned so far:[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_icon icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-cogs” color=”white” background_style=”rounded” background_color=”turquoise” align=”center”][vc_icon icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-search” color=”white” background_style=”rounded” background_color=”turquoise” align=”center”][vc_icon icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-flask” color=”white” background_style=”rounded” background_color=”turquoise” align=”center”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”5/6″][vc_column_text]Start with understanding your customers’ journey through your establishment/business first, THEN buy the proper software solution to match your process. It’s easy to get excited about the software and jump right in before you realize it actually doesn’t match your buying process. Oops![/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Businesses often focus most of their marketing dollars on generating completely new leads. It was our experience that there were a lot of wasted sales opportunities in our current leads (people who have already come in contact with our business). We had good customers right under our noses, but we didn’t pay much attention to them because they didn’t convert on the first touch point.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Marketing automation and software provides you with an efficient way to “test” and understand more about the people who don’t buy from you the first time, and gives you an opportunity to turn them into a customer after a second or third connection. What more, it provides you with data to see where you can improve the relationship across the board.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]Let me know about your marketing automation journey. Where did you see the most return for implementing a marketing system? Did you uncover opportunities like we did?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]